Thousands of pounds of horse waste produced this year during events at WestWorld of Scottsdale will go on to become nutrient-rich soil for native desert plants through the city’s partnership with Mountain States Wholesale Nursery.
WestWorld hosts roughly 40 equestrian events each year, which annually produce around 40,000 tons (approximately 20,000 cubic yards) of horse manure. If the manure weren’t repurposed, it would go to the landfill and be a waste of that finite space.
Instead, the manure is moved by the truckload from the 386-acre WestWorld property, at the base of the McDowell Mountains in Scottsdale, to Mountain States’s 130-acre nursery on Northern Avenue in Glendale.
“We aim to divert as much material as possible away from the landfill, and this partnership enables us to do that in a big way,” WestWorld facilities manager Jeff Kurth stated in the release. “This waste product isn’t just hauled away; it takes on a new purpose after it leaves WestWorld and that’s really the best possible outcome.”
Mountain States Wholesale Nursery grows more than 450 types of desert-adapted trees, shrubs, perennials and groundcover.
Millions of colorful and durable native plants are grown on-site each year, both outdoors and in greenhouses. The company produces its own soil mix on a three-year cycle, and horse manure from WestWorld has been added to that process since September 2020.
“It’s something that used to be deemed waste and nothing more, but people have figured out it makes a useful product that grows a better plant, so it has a value we all lose if it goes to the landfill,” Mountain States operations manager Ron Alewine stated in the release.
This partnership saves the city more than $100,000 in annual disposal fees. The nursery was selected in a competitive bid process, but the partnership was a natural fit because the company shares in Scottsdale’s goal of protecting valuable resources for future generations.
Owner Ron Gass started Mountain States Wholesale Nursery in 1969 with a mission to provide plants that were not only drought resistant, but also beautiful, according to the release. At the time, the desert was still seen as something to be conquered, rather than harnessed for its beauty, but Mountain States’s educational efforts and exceptional plants helped change that mentality.
Prior to the 1980s, non-native plants, which required a tremendous amount of water to survive, were commonplace in the Valley. Residents moved here from other regions with a preference for the trees and bushes of their home states and it hadn’t yet occurred to the public what native plants had to offer.
Mountain States’s first major undertaking was to provide desert-adapted plants for highway beautification projects, which was the first time many of those species were used in developed parts of the region.
Soon, the practicality and allure of native plants spread to the architectural design community and Mountain States’s plants were used in development projects across Scottsdale and Phoenix. The success and beauty of those installations led to a new standard in landscaping throughout the southwestern region of the United States, according to the release.
Like Scottsdale, Mountain States prides itself on pioneering a better way of doing things. For that reason, the city is pleased to partner with the nursery to divert this valuable resource away from the landfill, and see it returned to the community in such a beautiful way.
To learn more about citywide sustainability initiatives, visit ScottsdaleAZ.gov and search “Sustainable Scottsdale.”
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